Aisling Franciosi: The Nightingale Song

August 30, 2019
Early screenings of Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale were met with several walkouts, who could not handle the brutality onscreen, but that was exactly the point, according to its leading actress.

“I was always really supported by Jen and I felt very safe in the moment that I knew how she was going to shoot it, what the aim of what we were doing was, and what kept me going was just the importance of telling this,” The Nightingale star Aisling Franciosi told us at the Venice Film Festival where the film premiered and won awards.

“People focus on the physical side of rape, but they act as if the damage ends after the act is finished, and it doesn’t,” she continued. “People go through post-traumatic stress disorder; it’s an actual trauma, it’s not just a violent attack. It’s a trauma that lives with you. It’s someone attempting to annihilate someone without actually killing them. And this really hit home with me when I got into my research, meeting with social workers at a domestic violence center and even the victims. And it just gave me a huge sense of responsibility because I said, ‘yes, these scenes may be tough to film, but we’re filming them the right way. We’re not filming them from the male gaze. It’s not a sex scene that we’re watching. We’re watching someone attempt to destroy someone. And it’s an important thing to tell’.

“It was emotional,” she concedes. “But I’m so glad that we were working with the kind of actors and Jen, who could create a safe environment…”

The Nightingale is set during the early 1800s, on Tasmania, which was, of course, a penal colony.

“I was quite ignorant about the extent of the damage that was done and the brutality that the Aboriginal people experienced,” said the Irish actress, whose most notable role before The Nightingale was the series, The Fall. “But even from the convict point of view, they got sent there, and I was shocked as to how strategic it was. There was an aim to populate the island, and the ratio of women to men 1 to 8. If a woman became pregnant after being raped, they would put her in prison and their baby would be taken away.”

The Nightingale is in cinemas from August 29, 2019

Leave a Comment